Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The In-Between

I'm in a strange transitional phase right now. At the end of November, I was so ready to go back to Houston that I would daydream about it all the time. I think this was a result of feeling a bit burned out after 9 months of hard-core discipleship of students in DTS and SBFM. I basically had one day and one night off each week and was on-call 24/7. I loved it but it was quite time consuming. About Thanksgiving, I  was feeling the burn-out big time.

Now that I am done with my responsibilities, I no longer feel so anxious to go home. I feel like I am sliding down a big slide to Houston and now I am trying to climb back up the slide. I know I am not supposed to stay on staff with YWAM and I know I am not supposed to live in Maui and get a job. Texas and grad school is where I am supposed to be. But nevertheless, I am  feeling sad about leaving. I realize how extreme this feeling is when I almost got teary-eyed seeing an older Hawaiian man walking into a grocery store carrying a ukulele. I know I won't see that in Texas.

Here are some of the things I will miss about Maui (Just what came to my mind, not an exhaustive list):
The beaches- I definitely didn't go to them everyday but I liked the idea that I could have. And as you might have heard, they are pretty nice.

Local people- There are certain stereotypes about Hawaiians that are just true. They are super family and community oriented and they like any excuse for a party. They also like tattoos all over their bodies with Hawaiian themes, which you don't see much of in Texas- tribal designs, turtles, Hawaiian flowers, sharks, the Hawaiian islands, etc. I will miss hearing them speak pidgin and the way they block the aisles at Wal-Mart and Costco catching up with their old friends. You can't go to one of those stores with a local person and not run into 20+ people they are either friends with or related to.

YWAM Maui- I love my friends in YWAM and the way they love me, pray for me, make me laugh and challenge me to be a better person. I have met some of my best friends in the world here and though some have moved on, I still have plenty of friends here whom I will sorely miss.

The Food- Hawaii has some really good food. I don't like seafood but there are plenty of other good options. I will miss chicken katsu, potato wedges from Minut Stop, steak and rice from Blazin' Steaks, kalua pork, pineapples, haupia, sweet potatoes, cara-macs, and more. I will miss the restaurants in Paia: Fish Market, Milagros, Cafe Des Ami, Flat Bread, Charley's and of course, Anthony's coffee shop.

Paia- Though I have lived in both Haiku and Paia, my heart is in Paia. It's where I have spent most of my YWAM career there. I will miss celebrity sightings, the random hippies roaming the streets among Hawaiian flower print tourists, all the small businesses and living so close to what is probably the easiest, most efficient post office ever. I will miss being able to walk to the beach and riding my bike to Kanaha beach.

Words and phrases that are known only to people familiar to Hawaii-
talking story, spam musubi, Aloha drinks, shoyu, haoles, Aunties and uncles, Zippy's, all pau, pog, tutu, spam in general, no ka oi, kaamaina, keiki, etc

Rainbows and sunsets- There is so much natural beauty here. Gorgeous sunsets occur on a regular basis and rainbows are so frequent that you don't always take notice. In fact, the guy in the following video probably wouldn't survive as he would die of over excitement.

I think there might be some bad language, so I am warning you in advance.

And here is the musical parody:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Playing Tourist

I have lived in Maui for about three of the last seven years. Living in Maui is definitely different than being a tourist in Maui. For one thing, as a missionary, I have never really had the money to do the touristy things on Maui that aren't free or almost free. Thankfully hiking, cliff jumping and hanging out at the beach don't cost any money so I have managed to have a lot of island-style fun in my time off.

Me and Israel enjoying the complimentary beverages
Up until November of this year, the only touristy things I had done were two snorkel cruises I went on for free and a whale watch I went on for free. All the trips were super fun and I definitely recommend them to tourists. That's not a lot of tourist activities for the past 7 years. I've only stayed overnight in a hotel here once and I didn't pay for that either. I am not sure if it's because I am leaving but lately God has blessed me with more free tourist activities. In November, after living in Maui for three years on and off, I got to go to my first luau. It was really fun and tasty. Even though it is stereotypical, I think all tourists should go to a luau. I had seen hula and fire dancing before and I had eaten local food before but never as part of the luau package. My parents are coming in about a week and taking me to my second luau, The Royal Lahaina Luau. It is supposed to be the best. I will tell you if I agree.

Getting Cozy with the Performers
Wil making a new fire dancing friend

On Monday, I got to go on the Flyin' Hawaiian zipline. It has eight ziplines that cover two miles. It was pretty fun and not too scary. You basically started from a ridge that didn't feel too high and then zipped over a valley. The guides were fun and really sarcastic. They played a joke on my friend, Chelsea leaving her dangling about 12 feet from the end of one line. It was pretty hilarious. I went with my friends, Chelsea, Kristy and Shannon. The group was made up of only us and one Indian doctor named Ravi. Along with our three guides, we had a really fun time. I don't know if I would have paid full-price for this activity but free was a great price!
So Scary!

Me zippin' along

Our whole group
Yesterday I got to play tourist again and go on the Atlantis submarine. My Maui dad, Jim Walsh is the general manager of the submarine and got us free tickets. There's nothing better than being a tourist with hook-ups! His daughter, Shannon has been on the submarine about a 100 times and never seen a shark. Before we left, she said she really wanted to see one and we totally did! There was a reef shark just chillin at the bottom of the ocean. Pretty cool! We saw lots of cool fish and I found the schools of fish to be the most interesting. There were so many of them in such tight formations. The whole dive made me want to snorkel really bad so I could get closer to the fish. It was cool to see what happens at the bottom of the ocean. I recommend it to tourists, for sure. It's also good for people who might not be physically fit enough for snorkeling as you get to see the fish without swimming. 

I feel really blessed by all the free tourist things I have gotten to do lately. I couldn't afford to do any of these if I had to pay. If any of you are interested in discount Maui activities, you should check out my friends' website. They are former YWAMers who've started a business where you can buy all your activities in one place for a discount. 
Click here. if you are interested.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Children's Theater

I am a bit of a children's theater connoisseur. Well, I am not sure if that's actually true but I like the way it sounds. Last night, I went to the preschool children's program at Doris Todd, a local Christian school. Our base director's son, Elias was in the program along with Selah Kim, whose parents used to be on staff with YWAM and Owen Stewart, the son of the owners of Anthony's- Maui's best coffee shop. With such an all-star cast, how could I resist?

Elias- top left green shirt, Selah- left black and white dress, Owen- center red vest
We arrived at the school a little early to secure good seats. Seeing all the kids and being in a school definitely made me miss teaching. However I was thankful that I was not the one in charge of the whole thing. It definitely brought back memories of the Christmas programs I participated in during my two years as an Elementary School teacher. The last year I was a part of it, there was a real pony in the nativity scene. It was interesting that we were allowed to have both a live pony and Jesus in a public school Christmas program.

Elias hamming it up

Shannon, Joey and I settled in our seats after saying hello to some of the people we knew in the audience. The show started a little late since some of the kids had not arrived yet. There were many underage siblings in the audience  so the overall atmosphere was pretty crazy. The whole program was a study in chaos. The teachers tried to instill order overall but we are talking about two dozen preschoolers so there is a certain level of chaos that is unavoidable. The kids sang songs and then helped participate in a story-telling time. As a whole, they seemed most excited about performing "Jingle Bells" since they actually got to use real jingle bells during the song. I couldn't hear many of the words but I am sure those kids were having fun!
As for the three performers we came to watch, their attitudes to the show varied greatly. Selah was one of a couple of children who crumbled under the pressure. Within minutes of the start of the first song, she had dissolved into tears. Her mom later said she thought it was because Selah forgot some of the hand motions to the song and can be a bit of a perfectionist. She spent the remainder of the performance on stage but wearing a somber face and sitting on a teacher's lap. Her younger sister on the other hand, was not even in the performance but kept sneaking onto the stage to be part of the action.

Elias, my boss's son, was going for the class clown approach. He jumped and gyrated himself to his place on the stage and spent most of the performance making faces. He is such a contrast to his serious, more introverted older brother that it is hard to believe that they are related sometimes. Elias seemed to relish his time in the spotlight even if he was sharing it with his classmates.

Owen is one of the youngest kids in the class so his parents were a bit nervous about how he would do. Like Elias, he seemed to enjoy the attention. Instead of making faces though, he kept standing up in the middle of his seated classmates. Sometimes he waved to mom and other times he seemed to be just standing there. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he was the only one standing. It was pretty hilarious.

The program was followed by pupus (Hawaiian for snacks/appetizers.) I didn't know there would be food and it made me feel properly rewarded for my patronage of the Children's theater. I got pigs in a blanket and jello jigglers! What more could I ask for? It was a great ending to a fun night.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Impacting the Spheres: YWAMer in Hollywood

The school I am staffing in Maui is called the SBFM (School of Biblical Foundations in Missions). The main purposes of the school are to prepare students for missionary work, help them to develop a Biblical worldview and to learn how to impact the spheres of society. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade and Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM developed a system to break down society, which they called "mind molders." They divided all of society into 7 spheres of influence: Family, Church, Education, Media, Government, Business, and the Arts and Entertainment.

Personally I have always felt drawn to the education sphere and this has definitely influenced my decision to return to school to get my masters in school counseling. Our base focuses on this concept even in our entry-level school of YWAM, the DTS. One of the DTS students from our Summer 2009 school has begun to make an impact in Hollywood. I only met her briefly when she returned from outreach to Indonesia. Nevertheless, I am really excited that she's impacting Hollywood. She is currently playing a homeless woman on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and will be in an upcoming episode of "Lie to Me."

Here's an article about her: http://michaelfairmansoaps.com/news/bbs-brad-bell-kristolyn-lloyd-speak-on-the-homeless-story/2010/11/01/ Please pray that she will have a positive and powerful influence on the Arts and Entertainment Sphere.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just Like Family

I consider myself very blessed in the family department. I have a loving biological family and my younger brother is one of my favorite people in the world. In recent years my family has grown with the addition of my sister-in-law and nephew. Besides my biological family, I've also had the opportunity to have been "adopted" by awesome people who've been like second families to me.

I grew up in Houston in the suburb that NASA built called Clear Lake. We moved there when I was eight and I quickly made friends with our neighbors. Our street was a safe place full of kids where everyone played outside almost nonstop. My brother and I would run around and play with our friends, moving from house to house. I spent just as much time at the Regans', Patels' and Harnlys' as I did at my own house. My parents became good friends with the Harnlys and they soon became like second parents to me with their daughter, Jocelyn becoming the younger sister I never had. Throughout the years, they have loved and supported me as if I were their own child. Their relationship in my life is so precious. Mr. Harnly will even sign cards "Dad 2."

Some of my awesome neighbors from the street I grew up on

Me and Neha Patel with Our Second Parents, The Harnlys

I've lived in Hawaii on and off for a total of about 3 years. Because of the nature of our work: training and discipling missionaries to go overseas, I have spent most of my time getting to know the students who come through but not getting to know many people in the community. I definitely regret this as I prepare to leave Hawaii, possibly forever. During this last DTS I staffed, I had a student named Shannon who is from Maui. She is now my SBFM student and one of my closest friends here. It's been an interesting experience to be friends with someone who is actually from here and not just here for a few months. She corrects my pathetic pronunciation of Hawaiian words and my mislabeling of beach names. She also teaches me Hawaiian words like pau, shoyu and saimin. One of the best perks to being friends with Shannon, besides learning where to get the best shave ice, is her family. I finally have a surrogate family in Maui just as I am leaving. They live in a comfortable house about 20 minutes away from our house. I have been there countless times to relax and get away from the crowded, dilapidated house I currently live in. They have a nice TV, a hot tub and they've given me full refrigerator privileges, something I don't even have here in my YWAM house. I've spent many Saturdays there commandeering their TV all day to watch college football. (Thankfully they are also fans.)

One Saturday, we took Shannon's truck to the beach and her dad ended up driving my car back to his house. When I got my car back, he'd changed my oil and filled my tank with gas. What an unexpected blessing! Uncle Jim has done many other dad-like things that I appreciate so much since my dad is so far away. When he heard about our insect and rodent problem, he bought poison for us to spread around and gave us tools to defend ourselves from angry demonic centipedes. Then later, he spent hours at our house cutting down the tall grass where the centipedes hang out. He ended up killing about a dozen of them.

They've also blessed other YWAMers by having groups of us up to their house for meals. On Thanksgiving, they made an amazing meal for a dozen of us. I've also been invited to various events with their Maui extended family. I've been to several birthday parties and family dinners. They've really made me a part of their family and it makes living here so much better. I know I am going to miss the Walshes - my Maui Family, so much when I leave.

Uncle Jim and Auntie Debbie Walsh

The Thanksgiving Crew

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adding Another Name to the List

Pastor Dale and his family

Here in Maui, I go to a church called Waipuna Chapel. In my time here, I've gone to several churches but this is the one that feels the most like home.  It reminds me a lot of Clear Lake Presbyterian Church, the church I grew up in with a lot of nice families and loving people. The church loves YWAMers and always supports us in our overseas trips. The pastor there is named Dale Gustafson. I'm not personally close to Dale, but I have a lot of respect for him. I have seen him meeting with some of the guys from YWAM, sitting on our driveway with them and I'm so glad he takes the time to disciple our guys. He also preaches Biblically sound sermons that make me think and often laugh.

This week Pastor Dale announced to the church that he has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His accompanying message was very powerful as he explained how life with the Lord isn't a formula. It's not that you do good things and only good things happen to you or that if something bad happens, it's because you've done something bad. I think the story of Job pretty much refutes that idea. It was interesting to hear how some people had already reacted to the news. One person told him that if he had enough faith, he would be healed. That's a pretty ignorant thing to say to a pastor. Having a lot of faith doesn't prevent you from hardships. If anything, the Bible implies you will have more hardships. Pastor Dale's transparency was encouraging and I think it will open new doors of intimacy for the church. After his message, the whole church surrounded him and prayed for him. I think that's the way the church should be.

I don't want to add people to the list of people I know with MS. But unfortunately this is the case. So, now in April when I ride in the MS150- the 150 mile bike ride from Houston to Austin, I have another person to ride in honor of. I will be riding in honor of Sara Stanford and Dale Gustafson. I pray I won't have anyone else to add to that list. Please pray for healing and strength for Sara and Dale as they live their lives with this unpredictable, debilitating illness. And pray that we can raise enough money to end MS forever.

Pastor Dale's Blog

My MS150 Fundraising Website

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Young Life

I have to start this by giving a shout-out to my good friend, Joey Brunette who brought my computer back to life.  It still has issues and I am glad I am getting a new one, but I was able to get everything I needed off of it and I am using it right now. Yay!

There are many things I am excited about when I go home to Houston. Two of the main ones being: riding my bike in organized rides and volunteering with Young Life again. My grad school schedule interferes with both of these things unfortunately. I have class on Saturday mornings (common time for group rides) and on Monday and Wednesday nights (Young Life). Luckily my class ends at 7:30 and Young Life begins at 7:37. I will have to be late but I will still be able to volunteer. I love those kids and our ministry with them. Check out this video to get a taste of our ministry:

YoungLife West Houston 2010 - Friday Night Lights from Ben Gillin on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Memorial Service for Kirra Simone Daughtry

Disclaimer: I am in the process of trying to get a new computer. Maui has no selection so I have to order one online and it's taking longer than I would like. Because of this, I probably won't be blogging as much since I have to use other people's computers. Bear with me.

With the events of the past few days, I have realized that even in the midst of heartache, there's always hope and much to be thankful for. Without hope and thankfulness, I don't know if we could make it through the difficulties of life. I'm not saying that the hard things themselves are good, but that good can be found in the midst of adversity.
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

On Saturday, we had a memorial service for Kirra Simone Daughtry. She was the unborn daughter of my friends, Maria and Bryan Daughtry. The Saturday before, a bunch of us girls had gone to the beach to celebrate Maria's birthday. We talked about how excited we all were that Maria would finally have her baby girl in February, after all the miscarriages she's had this year. How quickly things change. The next day, Maria was admitted to the hospital and told that her precious baby had died in her womb. Maria would then have to deliver the baby. So terrible! And yet, Maui was the best place this could happen. Maria and Bryan had moved to Oahu about a year ago and most of their close friends still live here in Maui and were able to rally around the family. Also Maria's best friend, Holly was visiting from the mainland and was able to be by her side. Because Maria was so far along this time, the doctors did an autopsy to determine what went wrong. This information will be used to prevent a miscarriage in her next pregnancy. Even in the midst of heartache, God gives hope and comfort.

Bryan and Maria wanted to celebrate Kirra and held a memorial service at the same beach we'd gathered at to celebrate Maria's birthday only a week before. It was a sweet time for all of us that included both laughter and tears. People hung out at the beach for a while and then the service began. There was a time of worship and Maria spoke about their experience with Kirra. I don't think there was a dry eye in the group and I saw even the macho men shedding tears. It was so inspiring to see Maria and Bryan praising the Lord in the midst of their pain.

Next we hit the water for a traditional Hawaiian paddle-out to commemorate Kirra's brief existence. We brought flowers and paddled out to form a circle on our surfboards. Everyone released the flowers into the water in her honor. Kirra's ashes weren't ready yet so Maria and Bryan are going to release them into the ocean later. We all headed back to shore and I even caught a wave on the way in. Unfortunately Holly stepped on a sea urchin on her way back to shore. She was in pain with about 10 needles protruding from her foot. There was talk of peeing on her foot to relieve the pain, but thankfully this idea was dropped. After Holly was stabilized, Maria's pastor, Duane led a time of prayer for the Daughtry family.

We finished the time by hanging out and enjoying the beach together. It was a sweet time of catching up with old friends. Many former YWAMers who live on the island came. We all have so much to be thankful for. Please continue to pray for Maria, Bryan and their five year-old son, Kieva.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Why is Everything Breaking?

I am frustrated. Several important things in my life have broken at once. As a missionary, I have enough support for all my day-to-day expenses but I don't have enough for unexpected expenses and I don't know what I am going to do about all this. So here's the scoop:

My car
This summer my friend borrowed my car and part of the door handle broke off on the driver's side. Thankfully it was still functional. Then last week my passenger side door handle broke off completely while a friend was getting in. Apparently this is a common problem with 2000 Corollas, but this doesn't bring me much solace. Now I have to open the door from the inside to let people into the passenger seat. I looked online and found some door handles for about $25 but I couldn't get them shipped to Hawaii. I shipped them to my parents' house and they will send them on. Luckily we have handy boys here who will be able to help me fix this problem when my handles get here. I feel like I have a handle on this particular problem, at least.

My computer
My computer has always been abnormally hot. But all of a sudden, ast night it would not turn on. I suspect the excessive heat fried something. When I try to turn it on, it just blinks twice. I found out online that this signals that the BIOS is corrupted. I have no idea what this actually means but it sounds difficult to fix. My computer-saavy male friends can't even help me because the computer doesn't turn on. I am going to try to see about getting it fixed. I definitely don't have the money for a new computer right now and I may not have enough to get it fixed either, depending on how much it is. Ugh! I use my computer for everything, including my current job so this is super inconvienent! Luckily everyone here has one and people are nice but I hate continually borrowing stuff from people. I also have to register for grad school on a computer on the 9th. The worst part is that I may have lost my pictures. I backed up my computer this summer but I have taken a lot of pictures since then. Please pray that I can at least retrieve them even if my computer can't be fixed.

My Kindle
So, I was feeling super frustrated about my car and my computer. I had a friend pray for me about my frustrations. Right after the prayer, I went to my room to read my kindle. I was horrified to find that 1/4 of the screen looks like there is black ink spilled inside. My guess is that it somehow got stepped on. I don't remember this happening but regardless, it is no longer readable. This is probably the least of my worries as it is not a neccesity but I real enjoy it and I only got it last Christmas.

In the end, I know that these are all minor things compared to all the things people go through. I mean, my parents' friend, Oran has cancer for the second time. That's a much bigger deal than all my electronics dying. It's still annoying, though. I am trying to pray and learn from this experience but it doesn't mean I like it one bit. Please pray for me and that nothing else will break. I hate it when God smites my toys.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Halloween can be a bit crazy in our town, Paia. In recent years it's become the gathering place for the all the freaky Halloween lovers on the island. I do enjoy a good freak and definitely sought out encounters with them during my college days of spending Halloween on 6th Street in Austin. These people are a bit too freaky for me especially since some of them actually celebrate the demonic side of Halloween. We discouraged our students from being in town at night on Halloween and we had a party to help entice them to stay in. The party called, "Shadanigans" was to celebrate Daniel and Shannon's birthdays, Halloween and Reformation Day (the day Martin Luther nailed his 96 theses to the door, ushering in protestantism as we know it). I recognize the high dork factor associated with this final component of the party.

Before it got dark and ultra crazy, me and some of the students walked around Paia in our Halloween costumes. The local businesses provide candy and encourage children the trick-or-treat at their stores. Most were willing to give us tall children candy though a few gave us the stink eye. We were definitely a random group with a cow, cowgirl, pirate, cat, me as Michelle Duggar and my friend, Maddie dressed as me. I don't think everyone we passed recognized me, but the ones who did got very excited about my costume.


 After we went trick-or-treating, we got ready for Shadanigans. Since the party was my idea, I bought all the food. There were many of my old stand-bys like rice krispie treats and queso. I also served Aloha drinks, chips, no bake cheesecake and a Shadanigans birthday cake, which had the numbers 219 on the top since Shannon was turning 21 and Daniel was turning 19. At the party we played Guitar hero. I have a feeling I was better at it than the real Michelle Duggar, though my babies cramped my style a bit. We also played pictionary telephone and pin the theses on the door. I am sure Martin Luther would have been proud.

 After all the games, we watched the movie, Hook. Overall it was a really fun way to spend Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cohabitating With Critters

As I have mentioned before, I am currently living in Fehr's, our SBFM house in Paia. As much as I love living here, I do not like the critters that we often find living among us. Our house is a bit dilapidated and there are plenty of unseen openings that the critters can come in through. This sets us up for some interesting adventures with critters and a losing battle in trying to get rid of them.

Cane Spiders
When the nearby cane fields are burned, cane spiders invade our house. They are pretty freaky looking with small bodies and long legs. See the picture to the right. They can often be as big as a hand. Cane spiders move very quickly, which makes them difficult to kill. I don't mind killing them but I get a bit jumpy when they suddenly scurry away. Sometimes I lose my nerve and make my roommate kill them for me.

We also have tons of tiny ants that seem to appear from nowhere. They have invaded our microwaves, refrigerators, and counters so thoroughly, that we barely even pay attention to them anymore. I just stick my oatmeal in the microwave amidst the hundreds of ants, who by the way, don't seem at all affected by being nuked in the microwave. All day and night, I find lone ants crawling on me. Thankfully these ants don't seem to bite too much and are easily killed.

Another commonly seen critter in our house is the centipede. These painful spawns of Satan like to lurk in our bathrooms and bedrooms. My friend, Shannon woke up to one on her while she was asleep. Thankfully she didn't get bit but she did wake up her roommates when she turned on the light in the middle of the night. I watched a 4-5 inch, fat brown centipede wiggle out of my room as I stood frozen in horror. I was so startled that I didn't even try to kill it and let it just saunter out of my room. I recently killed my first one- a tiny blue guy intruding in my bedroom. They are hard to kill because you have to chop them into bits.

My least favorite critters (as if I like the others one bit) are rats/mice. The ones that live in our house are very bold. There is a tiny mouse that runs around our lecture hall even in the middle of class. It's hard to pay attention when there's a mouse frolicking among our sandals. One night, I watched a mouse (who I didn't know was visiting)  run out of bedroom. I don't want mice around but I also don't want to kill them. I am not some huge animal lover but for some reason, the idea of killing an animal with blood and fur creeps me out.

Plan of Attack
Our guys are good at killing critters when they are around but they tend to be absent during most of the critter visitations. They have also set several mouse traps without much success. Having all these uninvited guests makes me feel violated. One big cause of all these critters is the fact that my bedroom door has a 3-4 inch gap at the bottom that pretty much any one of those critters could fit through. This means that even when my door is closed, I am not safe. I have rectified the situation by taping three sticky traps to the bottom of my door to create a barrier between me and all the creatures who want to come in. Unfortunately, the first day I set this up, a mouse ran in while our door was opened and therefore trapped inside with our new sticky trap door. Definitely not what I wanted to happen. I am not even sure that my barrier works but it does make me feel a bit safer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exercising My Spiritual Gift of Cheering

Every year, my base volunteers at the Xterra world championships, a hardcore off-road triathlon held here in Maui. I am sure there are previous blog posts about my experiences with this event. Even though, I've only volunteered at the 5K/10K run event, which is held the day before the real race, it's always been fun and inspiring to help cheer these athletes on. I even thought about participating in the main event, though after finding out the actual length of the race and the qualifications to participate, I quickly abandoned that idea. Here's the website's description of the event:

The world’s premier off-road triathlon, combining a 1.5-kilometer (1-mile) swim that starts in front of the Makena Beach & Golf Resort a 32-kilometer (20-miles) mountain bike that climbs 3,000 feet up and down the lower slopes of Haleakala, and a 12-kilometer (7.5-miles) trail run that traverses lava rock, forest trails, and beach sand. 
Since I quickly realized I would never be participating in this type of event, my new dream was that someone I know would do the event so that I could cheer them on. This dream has finally come true! Last Sunday, my roommate, Rachel and I went with three of my students to the fancy side of the island to watch Suzanne Vernau, someone I've known for like 15 years, compete in the Xterra. It was so much fun! I made neon signs for each of us to hold with sayings like, "Texas Girls Tri Harder," and "Hey Suz, you can't lose!" We all had a great time even though I was the only one of us who actually knew one of the participants. At one point, when we hadn't spotted Suzanne yet, Maddie turned to me and said that she wasn't sure Suzanne really existed but she didn't care because she was having fun.

The athletes started off with a one mile swim and I spotted Suzanne as she ran by even though she didn't see me. She did very well in the swim and finished first in her age group and then moved on to the mountain biking portion. We stayed and cheered on each person until the last one came out of the water. I love cheering athletes on! I especially love it when they acknowledge you with a smile, head nod, blown kiss or a burst of speed. After all the swimmers came in, we went over to the bike area and waited for the first bikers to arrive after completing the 20-mile course. They came down a grassy hill to the transition area to put their bikes away and several people fell as they tried to dismount. It was kind of funny. The mountain biking course is hardcore and many people came into the transition area with mud all over their bodies and faces. One guy was holding his bike and tire as he ran down to put his bike up. I am not sure what happened but the tire was in more pieces than I thought physically possible. The volunteers weren't doing a very good job of directing and several people couldn't find the exit to begin their final leg of the race. We filled in and pointed and cheered to show them where to go. I think we too, deserved a free volunteer t-shirt for our services.

At the transition area, as she was putting up her bike and putting on her running shoes, Suzanne heard and saw us cheering with our neon signs. I could finally prove she really existed. After she went from biking to running, we waited near the finish line to cheer her on the final stretch. We got a chance to cheer more people on and it was awesome to be able to tell them that the finish line was within their reach. We cheered so much and so loud that we got our own fans. One lady took a picture of us with our signs. Another person asked if we actually knew someone in the race. We also had several people tell us how much they appreciated us. I felt very useful and fulfilled. 

Suzanne ended up doing well, especially for her first time on this course. She finished fourth in her age group and in the top half of the overall group, which included lots of guys. She also won a free wetsuit for being the fastest swimmer in her age group. It was so fun to root her on! It makes me want to cheer the runners on at the Houston marathon, since the course goes right by my house. It also makes me want to go support any friends I have doing sporting events. Let me know if you have somewhere I can cheer you on. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Christian Rap

I have always loved rap and hip hop music. My parents didn't really listen to music while I was growing up so I don't remember even caring much about music until I was in junior high. I still remember the first CD I owned, Candy Rain by Soul for Real.

For some reason, both my brother and I were really into rap and hip/hop, despite being suburban white kids. It's pretty much all we listened to in high school. A bunch of my friends from church youth group, along with my brother and me had a Tupac phase. We would listen to his Greatest Hits album incessantly and I think I still know all the words to each and every song. One thing I noticed about listening to Tupac was that the more I listened to him, the more I used cuss words. I have never been one for profanity but both me and my friends definitely used it more when we were listening to Tupac. We even decided to cut back for a bit to help us control our language.

Since then, my love of rap has gone through phases of adoration and conviction. I would sometimes buy CDs at Wal-Mart, since they came already edited. When iTunes started offering clean versions of songs, I was excited to buy those. Unfortunately even the clean versions can't hide a lot of rap's sexual, illegal and violent undertones. More recently I have been more convicted of these themes and have gotten rid of some music. But yet, I still love rap and hip hop.

I think I have finally found a compromise. In the past Christian rap almost always sucked. It's just true. The beats were poor, the rappers not very talented and the lyrics were cheesy. Only recently have I decided to give Christian rap a chance again. There are actually some decent Christian rappers out there and it's been fun to listen to rap that doesn't make me want to cuss. Sometimes the lyrics are a bit funny sounding but at least they're uplifting. And these guys have a lot more talent than their early counterparts. There is even an album called, 13 Letters, where they rap Paul's letters from the Bible. Pretty cool.

So, if you hear me jamming to what sounds like gangsta rap, listen carefully, because they might just be rapping about Paul's  letter to the Ephesians.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stuff I Hate

I try to keep my blog entries fairly upbeat, informative, heartfelt and funny. I try not to rant too much but today I am going for it. My last blog entry was about my thankfulness to my supporters but this one won't be quite so upbeat. Lately I have felt the Lord convicting me more to love what He loves and hate what He hates. I think there is a song with these lyrics but I couldn't find it despite scouring the internet. This process can be a bit painful as some of the stuff I love, I am pretty sure the Lord doesn't like.

The main thing I have been convicted of lately is the trashy TV I watch and the trashy magazines I read. I used to  be really into those trashy reality shows like "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," "Jersey Shore," etc. There aren't really a lot of redeeming qualities to those shows and they definitely don't portray a Godly lifestyle. Trashy magazines present a lot of the same problems. In addition to the wonderful pictures of celebrity babies, many trashy magazines simply attack famous people in petty, unfounded ways. These also don't have a lot of redeeming value. I haven't given up People magazine yet since it tends to be mostly informative and entertaining with a little bit of trash while the others are primarily trashy.

In a good way, the Lord has given me a much stronger heart for orphans. I think about the ones we spent time with in Asia just about everyday and I long to adopt children myself someday. The Bible is full of references to taking care of the widows and orphans and I know it is something God longs for. I am thankful for this heart I have for them now.

On a less personal note, I have felt more anger towards things I believe God also hates. One of these things I hate, though it will certainly sound intolerant, is the new Mormon church website. There are many awesome people who are Mormons but their religious doctrine does not line up with Biblical Christianity and is therefore false. I don't want people to believe in a false religion, especially one that unashamedly piggybacks Christianity. Even their logo is designed to feature the words "Jesus Christ" as the biggest and most prominent part despite the fact that they believe he was brothers with Satan and not at all God (as He himself claimed). I've always been interested in Mormons and Mormonism but their website makes me mad. It's very slick and well-done. It's visually appealing and its main feature is testimonies, both written and videoed of real-life Mormons. There are people who work on Capital Hill, a man with severe Cerebral Palsy, mothers, fathers, athletes, etc. Whoever designed this website did a great job and this is why I am mad. This slick advertising campaign may very well bring new converts to a church that has changed their holy book over 4000 times since its inception. They once praised polygamy and now condemn it. They once said no black people could be elders in their church because they were cursed but now it's okay. Wishy-washy theology like this is just one of the reasons Mormonism can't be trusted. I just pray people learn the truth of Mormonism before being sucked into their slick ad campaign.

Now for the issue I have been the most fired up about lately. It's the Westboro Baptist Church. You may have seen them in the news lately for the lawsuit against them picketing soldier's funerals. Here's their disturbing website: http://www.godhatesfags.com/ I recently watched a short news special on them and was brought to tears of anger. These people believe they are serving the Lord through their hatred. I am thankful that I don't think there is anyone but the members themselves who would consider these people Christian. It's hard to believe that they are reading the same Bible as I am. Their main "ministry" is picketing soldiers' funerals. Now, my brother is in the military so I know the feeling of having a loved one in harm's way fighting for our country. I can't imagine the pain these families must feel at the loss of their children. The idea that this church pickets these heroes' funerals saying that God creates war because he is so mad about homosexuality makes me want to punch them in the face. These soldiers aren't even gay, as if that makes any difference. I know there is talk that stopping this is some sort of slap to their first amendment rights. I fully support the first amendment but I don't believe there should be any picketing of any funeral, ever. I don't care if someone is a serial killer, every family deserves to bury their loved one in peace. It should be a basic human right. Their signs make me want to get violent, though I know it's not the answer. They have signs that read, "God loves dead soldiers" and one I hadn't seen that depicts a breast cancer ribbon and says curse. Having a brother who's served in Iraq and a best friend who battled breast cancer makes these unbelievably offensive to me. I think almost everything they do is offense but these two campaigns make me especially angry. I know it makes the Lord angry too! These people claim to know the Lord but it reminds me of the following passage in Matthew 7:18-24:

 8A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
 21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Please pray for these people to realize God's love for all his people and stop hurting people.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


On Mondays, we have something called staff fellowship. This is really a glorified staff meeting with snacks. I don't necessarily hate these meetings but they can be tedious sometimes. They always involve prayer, announcements and the reading of our Bible passage of the day. Sometimes we have teachings, skype with our YWAM friends abroad or watch a video. It's not the content of these meetings I dislike but the amount of time they take and the time of day they occur. Mondays are crazy with worship at 8am, SBFM lecture from 9:30-12:30. Lunch at 12:30 and then staff fellowship at 2pm until anywhere from 3:30-4:45. I also try to squeeze in a one-on-one with one of my girls in the afternoon pre or post-staff fellowship. Then dinner at 5:00pm, house meeting at 6:00pm, house cleaning at 6:30pm and then sometimes a night lecture at 7pm. Those days with night lecture kill me because they mean I sit on my butt at least seven hours that day. Not fun. I'm not sure how this turned into a rant against Mondays but I figured you might want to know what my Mondays are like.

Well, last Monday in staff fellowship, we had a prayer time where we expressed our thankfulness to the Lord. I thanked him for my amazing supporters. I feel so blessed. I may not have the largest amount of support of anyone on the base but my supporters have come through for me so many times throughout my seven years in and out of full-time missionary work. I figure I have raised probably $25,000 in the past seven years and with that, have been privileged to go on outreaches to New Zealand, Thailand, Bangladesh, Qba, and three times to that big Asian country that starts with a C. I've had people loan me their car while I've been visiting the mainland. I had a supporter give me $500 to pay for my last team's visa run in Hong Kong (something I didn't even ask for). I've had people support me monthly even through college and their own time in YWAM. One friend sent me over 100 packets of my favorite Crystal Lite drink. Another friend prays for me at a specific time each week. Another friend arranged for our girls' Bible study to get a free Beth Moore Bible Study kit, which retails about $400. I have received so many words of encouragement through letters and emails. And these are just things I am remembering off the top of my head. I am just so blessed and I want to thank any of you who are reading this who have supported me with prayers, finances or encouragement. There are so many missionaries here who don't have the kind of support I do.

There are plenty of things I will miss when I go back to Houston for grad school. One of those things is this relationship I have with my supporters. I am sure I will get some sort of job and even though the security of a regular paycheck is nice, I will miss that feeling of support and encouragement I get when someone has chosen to support me with their money. The Bible says that "where your treasure is, your heart will be also." I know that when someone donates to me, their heart is with me. A regular paycheck will never provide that same feeling.

The day after I publicly thanked the Lord for my amazing supporters, I eagerly checked the mail as I do every day. One of my supporters had sent me his usual monthly check along with a $100 "early Christmas bonus." What an unexpected blessing! Also very timely since I have 10 birthdays to celebrate between now and the end of November. I love to give thoughtful gifts so it's nice to have a little more money to do so. Yet again God has come through for me through the generosity of my supporters.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wacky Weekend

I have been meaning to recap my weekend all week and now I have finally gotten around to it as this next weekend is almost here. I find that I spend most of my time here focusing on just the tasks for each day without looking ahead much. I guess this is good for living in the moment.

On Friday I went to my friends, Abbey and Wil Brillinger's house. I helped our friend, Rachel babysit for a bit. I just love the Brillinger kids. They are so cute and funny at two years old and almost one year old. I tried to be helpful and make some Kraft mac and cheese. I put the sauce in the bowl first and as I dumped the noodles in, the cheesy sauce sprayed all over me. I looked pretty ridiculous. Israel, the two-year old wouldn't even come near me with all the cheese in my hair and on my shirt.

The next day I went to Shannon's house, like I do every Saturday to watch college football. Her parents are great and even made us breakfast. Unfortunately it seems like all the teams I am rooting for lose and that day was no exception. I guess this is what they call a rebuilding year for my Longhorns. After about 7 hours of football, which included a unintentional nap on the couches with Shannon and her dad, Shannon and I drove back to Paia to pick up some of our friends.

We piled a bunch of people in Shannon's truck and headed to the Maui County Fair. There's not a whole lot to do in Maui at night, so the fairgrounds were packed. There were people everywhere. There aren't that many rides so the lines for each are very long. I mainly spent my money on fair food. I got these doughnut things called malasadas, a chicken taco, a snowcone, a drink, popcorn and cotton candy. I am surprised I didn't throw up. I probably would have if I had ridden one of the rides. There was a livestock show (very small) with lots of live chickens on display. I never thought chickens were particularly good looking but these were some beautiful chickens. After our fill of games, fair food, rides and people watching (Lots of little boys with rat tails.)

On Sunday, I went to church and then attempted to be productive for a few hours with limited success. Then Rachel and I went to see the movie, "You Again." It was a cute movie and refreshingly non-sexual. After the movie, we went to a party at some of our friends' house. There were lots of good snacks. I need to gain some sort of party snack self-control. I pretty much stuff myself at every event I go to here, and there are a lot. Overall it was a busy weekend but a fun one spent with lots of good friends.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Home Sweet Paia

I really enjoy living in Paia. I lived here during my DTS and SBFM and for most of my time on staff. I was leading a team in Bangladesh when our base moved up to Haiku and the house there has never really felt like home. So, I am glad to be back in Paia. My favorite quiet time spot in the whole world is Paia Bay, which is only a short walk from my house. We have great restaurants (though I can’t afford to patronize them as much as I like), celebrity sightings, coffee shops and cute little surf shops.

We also have an abnormal amount of hippies per capita. I don’t mind hippies but they tend to smell like body odor and patchouli oil, which makes me careful not to breathe in deeply around them. They are super friendly and will gladly hug you or give you weed. There is definitely a large drug culture here, which is not good but contributes to the overall feel of the town. We even have a store called Hemp House where the hippies can go to purchase overpriced products made with hemp. There have been several Woody Harrelson sightings there. More than once I have been walking to my house and offered some “bud”, or “Maui Wowee” or my favorite, “herbs”. Do you think they meant thyme or paprika or maybe even cinnamon? I think I have seen more people blatantly smoking weed in public in Paia than anywhere else.

The other day, my friend Daniel was walking through town. He’s Indian so if you weren’t paying close attention, you might think he is Hawaiian. Some tourist guy approached him so Daniel said, “Hey, what do you want?” Then the guy said, “I want, I want” with a knowing look. Daniel was confused at first and then told the guy he didn’t do that stuff. The guy got embarrassed and then asked where the beach was.

Besides the hippie, stoner vibe, there is a large emphasis on spiritualism in our town. Maui is a Mecca for New Age and Eastern religions. Our town has a Buddhist temple at the South end, the West end and the East end. There would probably be one at the North end if there wasn’t that little body of water called the Pacific Ocean blocking the way. Everyday I pass by one of the Buddhist temples. The other day there was a blond woman kneeling down and bowing to the stupa, what my base director calls a “demon magnet.” It’s supposed to be a place of spiritual enlightenment and the Dalai Lama even came to town for its opening. It’s still strange to see non-Asians practicing Buddhism. Buddhism is just so opposite of our Western culture. It’s hard to understand how Western-minded people come to follow Eastern religions. I even recently heard that Julia Roberts has become a Hindu. Talk about strange!

Paia also has its prominent residents. There is an old guy named Maurice who walks around collecting cans. He’s a nice little guy but if you get too close, he might give you a hug. There’s also a guy named Bob who we like to call “Hair shirt Bob pants.” He looks pretty much exactly like Santa Claus only instead of wearing the red suit, he often just walks around shirtless with his wooly beard acting as a shirt, hence the nickname. There’s also another old guy we call Paia Dave. He wears tattered hobo clothes with a top hat. Unfortunately he’s been known to frequent the nude beach sans top hat. Eek!

So, Paia has a lot of character and a lot of characters and is definitely never boring. I am glad I get to end my YWAM career here.

Paia Bay

Monday, September 20, 2010

SBFM Goals

I've come up with some goals for the next four months of my life and I figure blogging them will give everyone who reads this a chance to hold me accountable. I have had mixed success so far but I am only a week in.

1. Cultivate a deeper, more disciplined relationship with the Lord
2. Love and give sacrificially in my relationships; putting others first
3. Improve my Spanish skills
4. Participate in physical activity on a consistent basis
5. Use my time productively

So far I have only run once and it wasn't pretty. I did use my friend's Rosetta Stone program twice, so at least that's a little better. The other ones are going a bit better but could definitely use more time devoted to them.

So far, I am enjoying sitting through SBFM lectures again. Today we talked about truth and the time went by so quickly even though I have heard a lot of it before. The rest of this week will cover the state of the world, which can be depressing. It doesn't have too much effect on me as I try to have hope in all situations. It does make me want to take action, which is probably a good thing.

Here are my three DTS girls who are doing the SBFM: 

Here is the rest of our school:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Love Feast...again

It's been a wild and crazy ride but I am now halfway through the first week of the Fall 2010 SBFM. Last night we went to Love Feast, which is a fancy dinner celebrating the DTS students' return from their no-frills camping trip. During the night I came to the realization that this was the 10th DTS I had been around since I first came to YWAM Maui in 2003. This is pretty crazy! I figure I have been to about 8 of these Love feasts and yet they never get old to me. The most powerful part is always the foot washing, a Christian tradition that used to give me the creeps but yet I have now come to love.

The students have spent a few days without bathing and there is usually an effort made by their staff to get them as dirty as possible. This means their feet are often disgusting. I know mine were during the three times I went on the trip. It is so humbling to have someone wash your feet, let alone your filthy, haven't showered in days, feet. Tears are common during this ritual. In the Bible, Jesus' washes the disciple's feet as a symbol of him humbling himself to serve them even though he is their leader. This is the same sentiment in our foot washing. DTS leaders and staff wash the incoming students feet to show that they are there to serve the students during their journey with the Lord.

As SBFM staff, we also washed our students' feet. Thankfully we had not just been on a camping trip so the feet were relatively clean. It is a little less satisfying, though than washing incredibly dirty feet. I washed one of my new girls' feet, Rebecca from Switzerland. She didn't do her DTS here and had no idea we'd wash the SBFM students' feet as well. When I brought the basin of water to her, she said, "Me?" It was pretty funny. Because we had so many students, I also washed the feet of Shannon, who is in the SBFM and was also on my recent team to Asia. We've grown really close and been through a lot together. I wrote her a heartfelt note that totally made her cry. Success!

All in all, it was a really good night. It doesn't matter how many of these things I go to, they are always special.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Some pics of my Team

Here are some of my favorite pictures from outreach and grad. I can't post pics from the kids at O-town but you can see them and more pics on my website- www.lizhightower.com

We went to the best zoo I have ever been to. You could buy leaves to feed the giraffes so of course I had to give it a go. How often do you get to feed a giraffe?

Me and Sarah in one of these motorized cart type things. I was enjoying a delicious mango smoothie.

I bought a folding bike in Asia and rode around with my student, Shannon on the back. It was great fun just cruising on "foldy" together. In this picture, my friend, Marcia is trying to get in on the action. 

Sarah tried to assimilate to the local culture by relaxing indefinitely in the chairs at IKEA. People also take naps in the beds. It's pretty much amazing!

IKEA provided endless opportunities for fun times as evidenced by these delightful hooded towels. 

My student, David is 17 and 6'9" or 1.2 meters. This was amazing to all the local people and many wanted to take pictures with him. David finally got to understand what it feels like to be a celebrity. 

Four out of my six girls just chillin' during one of our many rides on the metro. 

Shannon and her new friend. 

The tiger got a little crazy while Grace and Johanna were holding it and the zoo keeper had to rescue it from them. 

Me and Joey at DTS graduation. I couldn't have done it without my co-leader. 

My whole team. Aren't we cool?
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